Studying another language whilst being far away from your home country may seem a bit scary to start with because of all the differences you will have to deal with. The language, the people, the public transport, the food and many other aspects will all play a role in this process. Long-term student Haru, from China, Shanghai, explained to me some interesting aspects about getting to know the Spanish culture, the differences between China and Spain, her best experiences in Alicante and more.

Haru has been studying Spanish at Proyecto Español for 2 years now and lives with her mom, who bought a house in the city. From time to time, she takes a break in between the studying periods at Proyecto Español to relax.

The biggest differences compared to Shanghai, she says, are that it is calmer here in Alicante, the town is smaller and the food is different. Alicante has about 330.000 inhabitants and you can easily reach everything by foot, so there is no need to take public transport! It took Haru about 2 months to get used to the eating and sleeping times. In China, she ate breakfast and dinner earlier than over here and went to bed before 11pm. In Spain, people only start eating around this time. ‘The people are different as well, the senior citizens are really nice and funny here in Spain and I like talking to them’, she says.

Even though she studied a bit of Spanish back at home in Shanghai, she started with the A1 course at Proyecto Español. ‘The classes are amazing and the teachers are very helpful. They are very good at teaching the students how to write and they take the time to teach the students’. The teachers at Proyecto Español are all native Spanish, holding degrees in philology with academic education specified in ELE, and they have extensive experience. Haru does not have the conversation lessons that the school offers besides the grammar classes, but she practices her conversation skills on her own by talking to Spanish people.

When asked about her favorite experiences at Proyecto Español, she mentioned Proyecto Español´s “Summer Camp” that she attended when she was 16. ‘I loved it, I made many new friends and we went to a lot of places, like Altea, and we climbed the mountain’, she said. Other favorite moments of hers in Alicante over the past 2 years were the friendly teachers that helped her pass her exams and meeting her best friend, who is from Belgium.

Haru also said that she feels very safe here in Alicante, unlike other big cities, where ‘everyone is in a hurry and is rushing to work’. She is thinking about living here in the future and it is important to her to keep learning Spanish at Proyecto Español because she might start studying at a university in Spain. Eventually, she would like to work here as a tattoo artist.